Going under the mildly humerous moniker Recycle Religiously the campaign is a joint venture between Lewisham Council and local Christian ministers, rabbis, imams and Hindu priests.

After meeting to discuss the possibilities at a Lewisham recycling facility, the religious leaders agreed to raise the issue of sustainable waste management and responsible home recycling with their congregations, as well as encouraging them to lead more environmentally friendly lives in general.

Council officers have been invited to speak at different religious meetings to provide information and advice on how residents can the improve their environment.

In 2005 Lewisham’s municipal recycling rate was a modest 12.6% and since then the council has been working hard to push that figure up.

Cllr Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor, told edie: “We have made huge improvements to the recycling service we offer, but still need more people to recycle, more often.

“When religious groups express and interest our officers are going to go down and talk to people.

“This campaign is about taking the message as widely as possible and talking with all the communities in Lewisham. Research in other places has shown that some sections of the population recycle more than others and this is about them giving us good ideas about how we can improve the service and us explaining what we do.

“I’m delighted to be working with all communities in Lewisham to achieve this goal and know that together, we can increase the amount of waste we recycle.’

The Recycle Religiously campaign aims to cross culture and language differences and communicate with people the council may not always have reached before.

Imam Shakeel told edie that recycling was a relevant religious issue for Muslims as a duty to care for the environment is enshrined in the Koran.

“There are general statements about looking after the environment as well as specific references to looking after trees or water, for example,” he said.

“As Muslims we should support any initiative in which taking care of the environment is there and we want to make our own community and the white community understand this.”

Imam Shakeel invited a council officer to speak to his congregation at last Friday’s prayers and his own sermon was about the importance of recycling.

Councils in multicultural areas have at times found it difficult to communicate their message to a diverse population (see related story) and many are focusing at ways to raise community engagement.

Sam Bond

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